Unofficial results of contested races in China, Vassalboro, Fairfield & Waterville (June 2024)

by Mary Grow


At the polls on June 11, China voters approved all articles on the warrant for the annual town business meeting. A few more than 500 votes were cast; the majority of the articles received more than 350 affirmative votes.

The three least popular articles were the request for $1,184,525 for town administration, which was approved by a vote of 349 to 162; the revised sections of the Land Development Code incorporating new state laws, approved 346 to 145; and the much-discussed new Solar Energy Systems Ordinance, approved 331 to 163.

The revised Planning Board Ordinance got 396 favorable votes, with 106 voters opposed.

On a separate ballot, the RSU #18 school budget validation referendum, supporting the 2024-25 budget that RSU voters approved in May, received 328 votes, to 181 opposed (with seven blank ballots).

China’s local elections will be held Nov. 5.


Vassalboro voters voted on June 11 in local elections; on two proposed ordinance amendments; and to validate the 2024-25 school budget they had approved at their open town meeting on June 3. Town Clerk Cathy Coyne reported results as follows.

In uncontested local elections, Christopher French was re-elected to the select board with 289 votes, and Jolene Gamage was re-elected to the school board with 257 votes.

The revised solid waste ordinance was approved by a vote of 202 in favor to 88 opposed.

The revised Marijuana Business Ordinance was approved by a vote of 193 in favor to 100 opposed.

The school budget was re-approved by a vote of 217 yes to 79 no.

In the only contest on the three state primary ballots, between First District Republicans Andrew Piantidosi and Ronald Russell, Piantidosi got 104 votes and Russell 167 votes.

Coyne said 296 of Vassalboro’s more than 3,100 registered voters participated in the June 11 voting.


by Roland D. Hallee

U.S. House of Representatives – Republican

Austin Theriualt, 189
Michael Soboleski, 96

Maine Senate District #16 – Republican

Scott Cyrway, 188
Michael D. Perkins, 115

M.S.A.D. #49 School Budget

Yes – 291
No – 199

M.S.A.D #49 School Board (2)

Maxwell N. Kenney, 370
Ryan T. Warren, 327


by Roland D. Hallee

Representative to Legislature District #64 – Democrat

Flavia M. DeBrito, 185
Andrew S. Dent, 92

Representative to Legislature District #65 – Democrat

Cassie L. Julia, 490
Bruce A.White, 280

State Senate District #16 – Republican

Scott W. Cyrway, 178
Michael D. Perkins, 136

Representative to Congress, Distcit #1 – Republican

Ronald C. Russell, 166
Andrew Piantidosi, 101

EVENTS: Vassalboro select board to hold public hearing

by Mary Grow

The Vassalboro select board will hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 13, in the town office meeting room, to discuss allocating Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds to the Vassalboro Sanitary District.

For more information, contact Town Manager Aaron Miller at 872-2826 or email

The hearing will be followed by a regular select board meeting.

VASSALBORO: Sidereal Farm approved for expansion with conditions

by Mary Grow

After a long discussion at their June 4 meeting, Vassalboro select board members unanimously approved all but one piece of an expansion plan for Sidereal Farm Brewery, at 772 Cross Hill Road. They added two conditions to the approval, based on neighbors’ concerns.

Brewery owner James D’Angelo presented a nine-item plan. The ninth part, his plan to apply for a state restaurant license, is probably not a planning board issue; the board did not act on it.

Planning Board chairman Virginia Brackett explained that Sidereal’s current state license allows preparing food outdoors only; a Department of Health and Human Services restaurant license would allow an indoor kitchen. DHS will want input from “municipal officers,” a term Brackett thinks means select board members.

D’Angelo said the first four parts of his plan involve the entrance road off Cross Hill Road. First, he said, he already has approval from the E911 emergency numbering agency to have the road named Sidereal Way, so customers will stop mistakenly turning into nearby Glidden Lane.

He asked to extend the road; to add a cul de sac to provide parking and space for recreational vehicles to turn around; and to install downward-facing LED lights.

One of the planning board conditions is that parking be prohibited along the road. Board members also proposed a traffic pattern at the end designed to minimize headlights shining toward neighbors’ houses. D’Angelo was receptive to the idea.

Board and audience members and D’Angelo had a long discussion about additional screening to block headlights. After much consultation over maps, they agreed on the second condition, a 100-foot-long, six-foot-high cedar fence in a specified place, with trees planted 10 feet apart on the inside.

Once the trees grow enough to provide screening, D’Angelo is allowed to remove the fence.

Discussion covered the exact location of the screening; whether noise and light studies D’Angelo had done were adequate; and what kinds of trees grow best in different soils and how soon they should be big enough to be a buffer.

At the brewery building, D’Angelo proposed relocating a fire pit and bocce court from the front to the rear; extending the outdoor cooking area and adding a roof and curtains so it can be used in the winter; and using one bay in a nearby garage to store equipment used in the business.

His request to extend operating hours generated another discussion. Currently, the brewery is open from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m., Sunday.

D’Angelo asked to stay open until 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday. Board member Marianne Stevens thought the extension “as little unfair to the neighbors.” When fellow board member Dan Bradstreet interpreted the new hours as taking effect after the restaurant opens, Stevens proposed delaying a decision until that happens.

Brackett replied that longer hours would be necessary for a restaurant to be commercially viable. She disagreed when neighbor Peter Soule suggested the restaurant was getting preferential treatment.

Since Vassalboro has no zoning, Brackett said, commercial establishments can be located anywhere, and the planning board must in each case balance abutters’ needs with the needs of the business.
Board members unanimously approved the extended hours. The 11 p.m. deadline to have Sidereal’s lights off will remain.

In response to neighbors’ comments about a 24-hour light in the top of the building, D’Angelo said he will talk with employees about installing a timer that will darken the entire brewery at 11 p.m.

Neighbors Richard and Terry Dawson and Peter and MaryBeth Soule presented two main issues. First, they said, their peace and privacy have been lost, with traffic, noise, lights that shine into their houses and brewery customers who can, and do, watch them.

Second, D’Angelo failed to comply with buffering requirements on his original permit, granted in 2019. Soule said a town official, whom he did not further identify, agreed a year ago that what D’Angelo had done was inadequate.

Dawson and Soule asked what guarantee they have that this year’s buffer requirement will be met promptly and adequately.

D’Angelo offered two replies. He agreed to comply with “reasonable” planning board requirements, and did not object to any part of the board’s decision.

He defended Sidereal Farm Brewery as a valuable asset to Vassalboro. The business has a $280,000 payroll and five full-time and five part-time employees; it uses local food and local contractors and supports local charities, he said.

Before taking up the Sidereal Farm Brewery application, planning board members unanimously approved Robert and Clara Dyason’s application to add a covered porch to their existing building at 72 Branstrom Road, in the Three Mile Pond shoreland zone. The addition will be on the side away from the water, Robert Dyason said.

The next regular Vassalboro Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, July 2.

EVENTS: Upcoming Vassalboro Library play in search of actors

The Vassalboro Public Library is planning to present a play as part of a library fundraiser on October 19 and 20. The play, entitled Murder by the Book, is written by Canadian playwright, Laura Teasdale, and it is inspired by the books by Louise Penny which feature the investigator Armand Gamache. Louise Penny has provided in the play’s development and availability. Murder by the Book is a comedy set in a small town much like Vassalboro. The murder (sort of) takes place in the local library, much like the Vassalboro Library.

Opportunities to join the cast of the production are open to people of all ages. Anyone interested in participation, either in the cast or in supportive roles, is urged to attend their next meeting on Saturday, May 25, at 9:30 a.m., at the Grange, 353 Main St., Vassalboro. Interested participants may also contact the library at 207-923-3233, email at, or register through the library website.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Vassalboro – Winslow

Map of Vassalboro in 1879.

by Mary Grow

Going north from Augusta on Route 201 on the east bank of the Kennebec River, one follows the approximate route of Massachusetts Governor William Shirley’s 1754 military road between Fort Western, in present-day Augusta, and Fort Halifax, in present-day Winslow.

The town between Augusta and Winslow has been named Vassalboro since 1771, though the spelling has been simplified: Vassalborough lost its last three letters in the town clerks’ record books by 1818, according to local historian Alma Pierce Robbins.

Robbins starts her history in early March 1629, when England’s King Charles gave a group of men called the Massachusetts Company in London (or the Massachusetts Bay Company; sources differ) a charter for a Massachusetts colony. Among these men were Samuel and William Vassall or Vassal. In June, the company sent out three ships, which arrived in Salem on June 29, 1629.

Samuel (1586-1667; “probably” died in Massachusetts) and William (1590 or 1592 – 1656) were sons of a London Alderman (city councilman) named John Vassall (originally DuVassall), “a Protestant refugee from France.” In 1609, John Vassall became one of the Virginia Company chartered in 1606 by King James I – and, Robbins wrote, thereby determined that a piece of the Kennebec River valley would be named Vassalboro.

Robbins summarized the family’s ventures in England, Barbados and, to a much lesser extent, North America. William Vassall was briefly in Massachusetts in 1629, and from 1635 to 1648 lived in Scituate with his wife and six children.

Some later Vassalls moved permanently to Massachusetts, Robbins wrote. One of importance to Vassalboro was Florentius. According to Robbins, Florentius was Samuel’s great-grandson: Samuel had a son named John and John had a son named William, father of Florentius.

On-line sources, however, list one Florentius Vassall as a Jamaican sugar planter who married Anna Maria Hering Mill (born c. 1675), by whom he had a son, Florentius (1709-1776; called Florentius II in one source) before he died in 1712.

Another Florentius Vassal(l) was born around 1689 and died in 1778.

Two sources say Florentius II married Mary Foster, born in 1713; they had a daughter, Elizabeth (Vassal) Barrington, and/or a son, Richard (1732-1785 or 1795).

Robbins wrote that the Florentius Vassall who was William’s son and who was born in 1709 was one of the 1749 Proprietors of the Kennebec Purchase. She said he acquired acreage on both sides of the Kennebec from Pownalborough north, including in present-day Augusta and Vassalboro.

James North’s 1870 history of Augusta says the Florentius Vassall who was a Proprietor was son of William and great-grandson of Samuel.

This Florentius was born in Massachusetts, North wrote, where his father had come “as early as 1630,” but later moved to England and died in London in 1778 (not 1776). He had a son named Richard, and in his 1777 will left his land-holdings to Richard’s daughter Elizabeth’s male heirs, touching off title disputes that North said were finally settled by “the Supreme Court at Washington.” He gave no date; Robbins’ history suggests the Supreme Court was involved around 1850.

Robbins listed no Vassall among the early settlers in Vassalboro. The only mention of the family in the latter half of the 1700s is her account of a 1766 petition from the settlers to the Kennebec Proprietors asking for a grist mill at Seven Mile Brook, in southern Vassalboro.

Robbins commented that the petition was unusual in that it was sent to the whole company rather than to the individual Proprietor. Other Proprietors, she said, had built mills and churches for their settlers.

She added, “There is nothing to indicate that Vassall hastened to see that the inhabitants had a grist mill.”

(They did get one, and a sawmill as well, as described in the Jan. 11, 2024, article on mills on Seven Mile Brook.)

The 1761 Nathan Winslow survey, mentioned in previous articles, increased interest in Vassalboro land. Nonetheless, there were only 10 families living there in 1768; and remember, the town then extended 15 miles back from each bank of the Kennebec. The town was incorporated as Vassalborough on April 26, 1771.

Robbins credits the choice of name to Florentius Vassall’s “speculative [and profitable] deals in real estate” on this part of the Kennebec.

Henry Kingsbury, in his Kennebec County history, wrote that Vassalboro’s town records from 1771 to “the present” (1792) “are in four leather-bound books, well preserved and beautifully written.”

On May 17, 1771, Kingsbury said, Justice of the Peace James Howard (presumably the Fort Western James Howard) called the first town meeting, at “James Bacon’s inn.” Meetings were held in inns on alternate sides of the Kennebec for more than 20 years; the first town meeting house was authorized in 1795, on the east side of the river.

According to Kingsbury, the first “buildings” Vassalboro taxpayers paid for were two town pounds. He named the owners of the lots where they were built, but did not say where the lots were. He did write that the inhabitants were ordered to meet to build them in December, 1771, and anyone (presumably, any able-bodied man) who did not show up was fined.

Kingsbury described the first reference to schooling as a decision at the March 1790 town meeting to create nine school districts on the east side of the river. Less than two years later, on Jan. 30, 1792, Sidney, on the west side, was separated from Vassalboro and incorporated as a separate town. Readers will hear more about Sidney in a later article in this series.

* * * * * *

Winslow is the next town north of Vassalboro on the east bank of the Kennebec. It, like Vassalboro, started on both banks of the river and lost its western part, in its case in 1802.

Fort Halifax in 1754.

Fort Halifax, built in 1754 (and mentioned in last week’s article) was not the earliest European building within the town boundaries. Kingsbury explained in his chapter on Winslow that the location, at the junction of the Sebasticook and Kennebec rivers, was important to Natives and Europeans, because rivers were main travel routes.

Kingsbury used the spelling Ticonic for the junction and for the falls upriver on the Kennebec. Edwin Carey Whittemore and Stephen Plocher, two writers of Waterville history, chose Teconnet; Plocher said the falls were named after Chief Teconnet. Early British records used Taconnett.

Kingsbury wrote that the first trader up the Kennebec, in 1625, was Edward Winslow, who might not have come as far as “the land that was destined to carry his named down to posterity.” On Sept. 10, 1653, according to a document Kingsbury quoted, Christopher Lawson built a trading house on the south side of the Sebasticook where the rivers joined.

In the same year, Kingsbury wrote, Lawson “assigned” his building to Clark & Lake (Thomas Clark or Clarke and Thomas Lake). Clark & Lake and Richard Hammond both had trading posts at Ticonic (and farther downriver) by 1675, when the Natives captured the Ticonic posts and apparently controlled the area until, Plocher wrote, the remaining building “was burned” – presumably by Europeans – in 1692.

Plocher called Hammond Winslow’s first white resident. Multiple sources say he was accused of cheating the Natives in his trading; they killed him in 1676.

As summarized last week, in 1754 Massachusetts Governor William Shirley had Fort Western built at Cushnoc and Fort Halifax built at Ticonic for protection against the French and their Native allies.

After Shirley and the Kennebec Proprietors agreed, on April 17, 1754, to build the two forts, the governor named General John Winslow, from Marshfield, Massachusetts, to supervise building Fort Western. Winslow (1703 -1774) was the great-grandson of Edward Winslow (1595 – 1655), who came to North America in 1620 on the Mayflower, was a governor of the Plymouth Colony and founded Marshfield.

Governor Shirley went up the Kennebec and personally chose the site for the fort, on the north side of the Kennebec-Sebasticook junction, as a strategic location to cut off Native communications and from which to launch an attack upriver.

Captain William Lithgow was the fort’s first commander, arriving on Sept. 3, 1754. Lithgow Street in present-day Winslow runs parallel to the Kennebec south of the rivers’ junction.

The fort’s name honored the Earl of Halifax. Kingsbury said he was the British Secretary of State. Louis Hatch, in his Maine history, said Halifax was President of the British Board of Trade, and added he was “sometimes called on account of his services to American commerce the ‘Father of the Colonies.'”

A settlement developed around the fort. Morris Fling, in 1764, was the first to farm the flat land nearby, Kingsbury said; the name “Fling’s Interval” lasted a couple generations.

Captain Lithgow used to have the river ice swept so his men could “slide the ladies,” Kingsbury wrote. A former island below the falls was a recreation area for Fort Halifax “officers and their families,” and a Native camping site as late as 1880.

Kingsbury also mentioned a brook named after a Sergeant Segar, who built a bridge crossing it. A contemporary on-line map of Winslow shows Segar Brk Avenue, off Whipple Street, north of Halifax Street (Route 100).

Plocher wrote the area’s first incorporation was as the plantation of Kingfield; Kingsbury called it Kingsfield; neither provided a date. It became the town of Winslow on April 26, 1771, including present-day Waterville and Oakland, named after General Winslow.

An on-line genealogy related to the historic Winslow house in Marshfield says Edward Winslow frequently voyaged between Massachusetts and England. He “died at sea somewhere in the Caribbean in 1655 while serving as Chief Civil Commissioner during the British fleet’s expedition to conquer the West Indies.” This information, in your writer’s opinion, increases the probability that General Winslow’s great-grandfather was the same Edward Winslow who Kingsbury said traded up the Kennebec in 1625.

Winslow’s first town meeting, Kingsbury said, was held at Fort Halifax on Thursday, May 23, 1771. In 1787, he wrote, Ezekiel Pattee (an early settler) and James Stackpole, of Winslow, and Captain Denes (or Dennis) Getchell, of Vassalboro, settled the Winslow/Vassalboro town line.

(Pattee was featured in the Jan. 25 issue of The Town Line as the man for whom Winslow’s Pattee Pond was probably named.)

Managing town business became increasingly difficult by the 1790s, especially since there was no bridge across the Kennebec. In 1793, Whittemore wrote, voters appointed two (tax?) collectors, one for each side of the river, and provided for preaching and town meetings to alternate between east and west banks.

After much discussion of a division, usually with the Kennebec as the dividing line (“though once a line one mile west of the river was proposed,” Kingsbury wrote), on Dec. 28, 1801, voters approved a petition to the Massachusetts legislature to make a separate town named Waterville on the west side of the river. The legislature approved June 23, 1802.

Main sources

Hatch, Louis Clinton, ed., Maine: A History 1919 ((facsimile, 1974).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).
North, James W., The History of Augusta (1870).
Plocher, Stephen, Colby College Class of 2007 A Short History of Waterville, Maine Found on the web at
Robbins, Alma Pierce History of Vassalborough Maine 1771 1971 n.d. (1971).
Whittemore, Rev. Edwin Carey, Centennial History of Waterville 1802-1902 (1902).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Vassalboro select board seeks ways to relieve VSD financial crunch

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro select board members began their May 30 meeting with a discussion with Vassalboro Sanitary District trustees about ways to relieve the VSD’s financial crunch. Auditor Ron Smith, of Buxton-based RHR Smith and Company, joined the discussion virtually to offer his advice.

A major problem for the VSD is interest payments on the loans the district took out to fund connecting the original in-town treatment system to Winslow’s sewers, whence waste goes to Waterville’s treatment system. Winslow’s recent rate increase has added to the need for funds.

A major problem for the VSD is interest payments on the loans the district took out to fund connecting the original in-town treatment system to Winslow’s sewers, whence waste goes to Waterville’s treatment system. Winslow’s recent rate increase has added to the need for funds.

The May 30 group discussed uses of Vassalboro’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) money to help cover some VSD expenses. They said $100,000 was previously allocated from the TIF fund to the VSD to help fund the connection to Winslow, but was not used.

As at a prior discussion, Town Manager Aaron Miller said he needs to know what money was spent in Vassalboro (and is therefore TIF-eligible) and what was spent across the Winslow town line. And to make proposed use of additional TIF funds legal, Miller needs more information on other expenditures.

VSD Treasurer Rebecca Goodrich promised figures as soon as she can assemble them from records, perhaps in time for the June 13 select board meeting.

In addition to money questions, Smith agreed with earlier recommendations to amend the VSD charter. Goodrich said a revised draft is already with the VSD’s attorney.

After Smith signed out of the discussion, select board member Frederick “Rick” Denico, Jr., asked if the group had done anything to bring rate-payers immediate relief. There was no affirmative answer.

The other time-consuming issue at the May 30 select board meeting was, again, the town’s personnel policy (see the May 30 issue of The Town Line, p. 3). Half a dozen town employees contributed to the discussion. The topic will be continued.

Select board members signed a proclamation honoring Vassalboro sixth-grade student Sarina LaCroix, a state winner in the Elks Club’s Americanism Essay Contest (see the April 25 issue of The Town Line, p. 1).

They continued consideration of keeping part of a foreclosed property adjoining the transfer station on Lombard Dam Road, to enlarge the transfer station property.

Miller said two pending projects should be done by the end of June, rearranging the fuel pumps at the public works garage and repaving the parking lot at the former East Vassalboro schoolhouse.

Board members accepted Miller’s preliminary recommendation to close the town office at 3 p.m., Thursday, June 27, so staff can do necessary end-of-year bookkeeping before the fiscal year ends Sunday, June 30. The closing time might be changed at the board’s June 13 meeting.

Vassalboro residents take care of 41 of 45 articles at town meeting

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro voters at the June 3 part of the annual town meeting took care of 41 of the 45 articles in this year’s warrant. The remaining four will be decided by written ballot on Tuesday, June 11, with polls open at the town office from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Of the 41 articles, 39 were approved as written. One was defeated, with David Trask, the voter who made the motion presenting it, urging everyone, “Vote no!” Another was amended, on the recommendation of Town Manager Aaron Miller.

The defeated article, Art. 12, asked voters to eliminate the quorum requirement for a special town meeting, which, since 1991, has said that 125 registered voters must be present to open a special town meeting. Select board members have therefore called very few special meetings; and, Miller said, sometimes an emergency might require one.

Former select board member Lauchlin Titus remembered two special meetings under the quorum ordinance. One was to deal with marijuana growing. The other was to deal with Vassalboro’s topless coffee shop – a reminder that drew chuckles from the audience. Titus agreed that the topic “kinda drew folks in.”

However, former select board member John Melrose said, the 1991 quorum was established by the state legislature, as a private and special law, and he doubted a town meeting could repeal it. Former state representative and state senator Elizabeth Mitchell, who sponsored the law – at the town’s request, she said – agreed with Melrose.

Other voters wondered if eliminating the requirement was a good idea anyway. They pointed out that a small group with an agenda might be able to impose their policy on the whole town.

The amended article was Art. 26, which had two parts: voters were asked to appropriate $110,475 for ambulance service, and to authorize the municipal officers to make agreements for such service. Miller pointed out that $110,475 for ambulance service had already been approved in Art. 5, as part of a 15-item, $2.9 million list of town departments and functions.

Voters approved an amendment to delete the duplicate funding, and then approved the article as amended. The money is intended to pay for Delta Ambulance’s service for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

All other articles were approved as presented, by show of voting cards. Where the select board’s and budget committee’s recommendations differed, the select board’s figure was moved and approved.

As the first few articles dealing with the 2024-25 municipal budget were discussed, former town manager Michael Vashon and others asked for a summary of the effect of decisions on the 2024-25 tax rate, information they said had been available at previous town meetings.

They were not pleased when Miller replied that until the assessment of town property values is complete, he cannot calculate possible tax rates.

Under Art. 2 of the warrant, voters re-elected budget committee members Richard Bradstreet, Nate Gray, Douglas Phillips and Frank Richards and elected Laura Jones to fill a vacant seat.

Holly Weidner asked whether the five nominees thought they need additional help, for example a separate committee, to fulfill their responsibilities. None did, though Gray and Richards agreed they deal with complex issue. Phillips praised select board and school board members for their “due diligence” as they prepare annual budgets.

Spirit of America award winner Melrose was recognized with a certificate from the town, presented by select board member Michael Poulin, and another from the Maine legislature, presented by Rep. Richard Bradstreet.

Chris French, select board chairman, recognized members of Vassalboro’s First Responder Service, to whom the annual town report is dedicated.

Moderator Richard Thompson told voters this would be his last year as a town meeting moderator. He estimated he had been elected to serve at 17 Vassalboro meetings, and thanked voters for their cooperation and help.

About 85 people were in the Vassalboro Community School bleachers, and another 18 residents – budget committee, select board and school board members – sat at the head table. The meeting lasted less than two hours, thanks partly to Trask, who repeatedly made motions to consider multiple articles in a single discussion and vote.

On June 11, voters coming to the polls will act on:

Art. 42, to amend the town’s Solid Waste Ordinance;
Art. 43, to amend the town’s Marijuana Business Ordinance;
Art. 44, to re-approve the 2024-25 school budget that was approved at the June 3 meeting; and
Art. 45, local elections, with two unopposed candidates for re-election, French for the select board and Jolene Gamage for the school board.

Summaries of the proposed ordinance changes are on the opening page of the town website,, titled “A synopsis of proposed changes to two ordinances.”

Vassalboro school board meeting routine

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro School Board members’ May 21 meeting featured monthly reports and routine decisions.

Vassalboro Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer and Vassalboro Community School (VCS) Principal Ira Michaud presented written reports on past and pending activities, including numerous end-of-school-year field trips.

Pfeiffer announced that the new Director of Maintenance and Grounds for VCS and Winslow schools will be Cory Eisenhour, formerly with Regional School Unit #71, in Belfast. Eisenhour succeeds Shelley Phillips, who is retiring at the end of June.

The VCS grounds have received their annual treatment for ticks, from a licensed applicator using approved chemicals, Pfeiffer said.

The superintendent had prepared a summary of work done on VCS buildings and grounds from 2005-2006, when the original (1992) windows were replaced, to the current year. This year’s major projects included cleaning, repointing and, where necessary, repairing the exterior brickwork; installing ceiling fans in classrooms; and improving playground equipment.

Vassalboro residents will check out the new speaker system in the VCS gymnasium when they assemble there for the Monday, June 3, open town meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

School board decisions May 21 included paying bills; approving the 2024-25 school calendar; and re-appointing returning teachers and educational technicians as they move up a step on the ladder from probationary to regular employees.

The next Vassalboro school board meeting will be Tuesday evening, June 18.

By then, voters will have acted on the 2024-25 school budget at the June 3 town meeting and again on June 11, and presumably will have re-elected school board member Jolene Clark Gamage, who is unopposed in her bid for another three-year term.

Vassalboro select board reviews draft of revised personnel policy

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro select board members spent more than an hour of their May 24 meeting reviewing a revised draft of the town’s personnel policy, with comments from an interested audience of town employees.

The most discussed section deals with how time off – vacation time, sick leave, personal days, for example – is calculated. There were questions about when an employee begins to accumulate these benefits and how they are measured.

Related issues (like overtime) and possible future benefits (like family medical coverage) were also topics. Town Manager Aaron Miller will continue to work on the draft policy.

Before the policy discussion, select board members reviewed and made a few changes in the draft warrant for Vassalboro’s June 3 and June 11 town meeting. Miller hoped to have the annual town report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2023, which will include the town meeting warrant, ready for the printer on May 20.

After the policy discussion, board members reviewed two ongoing projects, reorganizing the transfer station and slowing speeders on Route 32 in East Vassalboro.

The transfer station discussion has two branches, rebuilding in pretty much the existing footprint or expanding.

Absentee ballots available

Absentee ballots for the state primary election and Vassalboro local elections are available at the Vassalboro town office through Thursday, June 6. State primary ballots may also be requested through the Secretary of State’s website.

State law allows voters to apply for absentee ballots after June 6 only under special circumstances.

Board members reviewed three plans for a drive-through building on the current site, prepared by Senders science engineering and construction, of Camden. Each would accomplish the main goal, improving safety by eliminating the need for drivers to back up to the hopper to dispose of trash.

They also discussed the possibility of incorporating at least part of an adjacent 5.5-acre parcel on the eastern border of the transfer station lot, on which the town has foreclosed. Miller said discussions with the heirs to the property are continuing.

If the town were to acquire the land, its usefulness would depend on numerous factors, from the extent of wetlands on the property to state regulations.

Board member Frederick “Rick” Denico suggested Miller consult engineer Jeff Senders.

East Vassalboro resident Holly Weidner and Miller said an East Vassalboro group and state Department of Transportation officials propose experimental Route 32 traffic-calming measures.

The first step is to collect statistics on traffic speed, Weidner said. Then the experiment will begin; continued monitoring will show whether it slows drivers.

Select board members approved spending up to $6,500 in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds for the project. Weidner said there might be a $1,000 grant available to reduce the cost to the town.

The next regular Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30.

Vassalboro prepares for annual town meeting, election (2024)

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro’s annual town meeting will be, as usual in recent years, in two sections.

Voters will assemble at 6:30 p.m., Monday, June 3, in the Vassalboro Community School gymnasium to vote on the first 41 articles of the 45-article town meeting warrant. The meeting will then recess until 8 a.m., Tuesday, June 11, when written-ballot voting begins at the town office on Articles 42 through 45 and for state primary elections.

Town Manager Aaron Miller expects veteran moderator Richard Thompson will run the meeting, if elected under Art. 1 of the warrant.

Much of the warrant deals with familiar topics.

Art. 2 asks voters to elect five members of Vassalboro’s Budget Committee for two-year terms. In past years the warrant has listed the budget committee members whose terms end. In 2024 they are not listed; Miller had legal advice against appearing to limit choices.

The annual town report for the year ending June 30, 2023, now available at the town office, says Frank Richards’, Douglas Phillips’, Richard Bradstreet’s and Nate Gray’s terms end this year. There is a vacancy, because Michael Poulin’s seat was not filled after he was elected to the select board last year.

Art. 5 asks voter approval to spend more than $2.9 million for 15 municipal departments or functions. Biggest proposed expenditures include more than $648,000 for the public works department, almost $630,000 for administration; and $570,000 for road paving. The smallest request on the list is $3,000 for general assistance.

As in past years, most of the rest of the warrant deals with other expenditures and with authorizing a variety of select board actions.

New articles this year include:

Art. 12, asking voters to adopt an ordinance called “Ordinance Eliminating Quorum Requirement for Special Town Meetings.”

The article refers to a 1991 town meeting vote. The state Law and Legislative Reference Library’s digital on-line version cites a 1991 private and special law that requires at least 125 registered voters to be present for a Vassalboro special meeting.

This legislative act amended an earlier requirement that at least 10 percent of the number of voters participating in the previous gubernatorial election take part in any special town meeting. The requirement has discouraged select board members from calling special town meetings.

Art. 21, asking voters to approve spending up to $20,000 from surplus to run the Red Cross emergency shelter at Vassalboro Community School, if it is needed.
Art. 23, asking voters to reallocate $5,500 from trailer capital reserve funds to buy a trailer for a new skid steer. The skid steer, a much-discussed topic at select board and budget committee meetings, will be used in winter to plow the expected new North Vassalboro sidewalks, and in other seasons for work on trails and elsewhere.
Art. 25, asking voters to raise and appropriate $10,584 for Conservation Commission and the Courtesy Boat Inspection Program (CBI), directed by the China Region Lakes Alliance. Conservation Commission member Holly Weidner explained to select board and budget committee members that the commission will oversee the CBI, which is intended to keep invasive plants out of town lakes.
Art. 20 again gives select board members an emergency fund, from surplus. Last year, the limit was $15,000; this year, it is proposed at $25,000.

The 2024-25 school budget is in articles 29 through 41.

In Vassalboro’s June 11 primary voting for the state and national legislatures, the only contest is on the Republican ballot for the District One Congressional seat. Andrew Plantidosi, of Cape Elizabeth, and Ronald C. Russell, of Kennebunkport, seek the nomination. The winner will run in November against Democratic incumbent Chellie Pingree, of North Haven, who has no opponent on the Democratic ballot.

In the State Senate primaries for District #15 (Augusta, Belgrade, China, Mount Vernon, Sidney, and Vassalboro), Republican Richard T. Bradstreet, of Vassalboro, and Democrat Raegan French LaRochelle, of Augusta, are unopposed.

In House District 61 (Vassalboro and most of Sidney) Republican Alicia Carol Collins, of Sidney, and Democrat Laura M. Jones, of Vassalboro, are unopposed.

State law says voters enrolled in a party may vote only on that party’s ballot; but unenrolled voters may request any one of the three party ballots.

The budget committee reviewed and made recommendations on financial articles. Its members agreed, often but not always unanimously, with the select board and the school board on all but Art. 8.

Art. 8 asks voters to raise and appropriate $126,936 for capital investments, for reserve funds and to buy the skid steer and trailer. The select board so recommends.

The budget committee recommendation is for $182,936, increasing the public works reserve by $6,000 and adding a $50,000 transfer station reserve.

Sample ballots for the June 11 meeting continuation can be seen on the town website,, under “Elections,” which is under “Departments and Hours.”

The sample ballot headed “Municipal Election” has three questions, Articles 42, 43 and 44 of the town meeting warrant.

Art. 42 asks if voters want to approve an amended Solid Waste Ordinance, renamed the Solid Waste and Recycling Ordinance, with new provisions about recycling; use by commercial haulers and owners and occupants of multi-family buildings; and enforcement.

Art. 43 asks if voters want to approve an amended Marijuana Business Ordinance. It changes the word “marijuana” to the word “cannabis” throughout, and adds regulations for small medical growing operations, which, by state law, must be allowed in town. The new ordinance does not affect provisions of the current one that prohibit new commercial cannabis-growing operations.

Art. 44, the school budget referendum, asks if voters want to confirm the 2024-25 school budget that was approved at the June 3 open meeting.

The ballot for local municipal elections is the final article on the town meeting warrant. The only candidates listed are Christopher J. French for re-election to the select board and Jolene Gamage for re-election to the school board. There is space for a write-in candidate for each position.